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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Flat Aggie on a Prescribed Burn

This week's Flat Aggie post comes to us thanks to The Prairie Project at Oklahoma State University. The project has some great learning resources for kids K-12.  Follow them on Facebook and you might be surprised what you learn and every once in a while they have a contest with prizes.   A special thanks to Blayr for taking such good care of Flat Aggie and for being persistent in helping us with the technical difficulties when Gmail hid the report from me. -A Kansas Farm Mom

A few days before the burn, I showed Flat Aggie how to check the weather to make sure the forecast was still the same and everything was good to burn.

Prior to the burn, I got Flat Aggie fitted with his own prescribed fire shirt. Some people wear clothing made out of Nomex, a material that is fire retardant. However, Nomex clothing is not mandatory to burn, as a matter of fact, 100% cotton works just fine. Just make sure that clothing doesn’t have any frays, rips or tears. I showed Flat Aggie what I wear on a burn, jeans (sometimes Nomex pants in the summer), a yellow button down fire shirt, leather boots with good soles and gloves. I always tell people that Nomex clothing is not required, we are trying to get as many people to use prescribed burning, and if extra cost in clothing is going to hinder them from burning, just wear 100% cotton clothing covering your arms and legs, leather boots and gloves.

The day before the burn, Flat Aggie and I drank a lot of water. You can’t make up for getting hydrated after the burn starts. Hydration begins in days and hours prior to the burn. So remember, always hydrate before a burn.

The morning of the burn, we got up bright and early, buckled up and headed to the burn unit. I think Flat Aggie took a nap on the way, it’s ok, he had a long day ahead of him.

Once we arrived, we met the burn crew, looked at maps to go over the piece of land we were going to burn and talked about the plan. The wind was out of the west southwest, so one guy on a four wheeler equipped with a drip torch started the backfire in the southeast corner and headed north toward the northeast corner. Once he reached the northeast corner, he turned around and lit on the way back, making a second strip to create more burned area. Once he reached the starting point in the southeast corner he headed back north for one final, third strip. Once he made it back to the northeast corner he stopped and the group let the fire back a little more. Once everything looked good, one large water truck laid a wet line and a guy on a four-wheeler headed west behind him, lighting fire off of the water line. 

Then another water truck followed them up and made sure the fire didn’t cross the wet line. A few more water trucks followed them, spraying out any fire that crept across the line. When the crew got to the northwest corner they turned south. About a quarter of the way south, they hit a draw that was too large for vehicles to cross. So they made sure the fire was good and hurried all the way back around the unit to the other side of the draw. All but two water trucks and a guy on a four-wheeler went back to the west side to finish lighting the west side. One man and two water trucks stayed in the southeast corner and started lighting fire off of the road, headed west. The plan was to bring both fires, from the north and from the east, together in the southwest corner at the same time to tie in the head fire.

After the burn was completed, everyone sat down for lunch. Flat Aggie and I headed out to take pictures of some bison. He got to see hundreds of bison, grazing where they pleased. There are no interior fences, so they are able to travel where they please. Usually they follow recently burned areas.

As an activity, have the teacher draw the burn unit on the whiteboard or chalkboard and have the students work together and follow the instructions above to see how the prescribed fire was conducted. This is what burn crews do before a fire to make sure everyone on the crew understands the plan. Below is a blank canvas to show the teacher shape of the burn unit.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

W4DW Guest Post Steak Bites

What's for Dinner Wednesday?  Steak Bites with Glazed Carrots and Creamed Peas and Dumplings all made in under 30 minutes.

Those of you that follow me over on Facebook probably know that we had a heifer that tried to give me heart failure.  She concerned me so much that I drove her to the Oklahoma State University Vet Hospital.  Miss Melinda of Bastian Show Calves was my person to vent to during the ordeal because she knows cattle and she happened to be where we bought her from.  Melinda has raised 2 boys that need some good hot meals to keep them going, so I am excited she shared the recipe with all of you this week.  Be sure to check out Melinda's blog, Farm Livin' is My Life or follow them on Facebook.-KFM
My work schedule has changed yet again and so I'm home on Fridays now.  I took full advantage today to make a good lunch for my guys.  And while I'd like to tell you I spent hours slaving over a hot stove to prepare this meal but in all honesty, nothing took more than 30 minutes to prepare.
Steak bites were the main course.  I had a sirloin steak thawed in the fridge and sirloin really is the best steak for these bites.  Trim the steak and slice into bite sized pieces.  Be sure to remove the silver and the excess fat.  Once you have it chopped into small pieces, sprinkle Cowboy Rub over it for seasoning.  Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of butter in an iron skillet until completely melted and sizzling good.  Add the meat to the butter and cook stirring once or twice until no longer pink inside.  In the meantime, slice and chop a red onion, a yellow onion and a couple of bell peppers.  I also like to add a can or two of mushrooms or some fresh sliced mushrooms.  Once you have all the meat cooked, add more butter to the skillet and saute the veggies.  A little trick for the farm families out there, I used my little crock pots to keep the steak bites and veggies warm until the guys were ready for lunch.  Worked great without drying out the meat.


So, now we need some sides.  My guys really are meat and potato type of men.  I popped 6 potatoes in the microwave to partially cook and hit the baked potato button on the microwave for 4.  Once they were done, I slipped the skins off and chopped the potatoes into medium sized chunks.  Now, the skillet from the meat still had a little butter left in it so I added more and fried the potatoes in that skillet.  Really, they just needed a little crispiness on the outside as they were just about done from the microwave.

Chris is a fan of glazed carrots.  In order for this to be a quick meal, I grabbed 2 cans of carrots out of the pantry, heated them up in a little water, added 2 tablespoons of butter and about 3 tablespoons of brown sugar.  Wa la....glazed carrots.
glazed carrots

Mike is a fan of creamed peas and dumplings.  I hadn't made them in a while, but dug out the dumpling recipe and whipped it up for him.  A pack of frozen peas with enough milk to cover them plus just a little was put on medium heat while I did the dumplings.  The dumplings called for 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs, 1 egg, 1/3 cup milk, parsley to taste, 2 teaspoons baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt.  Mix it up and when the milk is hot and peas are just about cooked, add dumplings by the spoonful and cook until dumplings are floating.
peas and dumplings
So there you have it.  A nice home cooked comfort meal on a busy spring day.